Monday, August 1, 2011

Playing cricket

It was ten minutes to tea. I was putting my daughter to sleep after telling her a couple of made-up stories. I was checking the score on my cellphone, and for whatever reason they weren't updating after 65.5 overs.

Then Somnath called. Somewhat bizarre, I thought. What might have prompted a call? What could have happened in that last ball? I mean, a pathetic long-hop hit for a six or something - but surely he wasn't calling for that? And why wasn't Cricinfo updating the score?

To quote Cricinfo, this was the case:
Oh dear, what's going on here? Morgan flicked it to deep square, where Praveen made a comical attempt at saving the ball, it looked funny but he actually did cut it off. The fielder thought it was four but it wasn't, the England batsmen thought it was four and by the time the throw came back in the batsmen were out their crease thinking it was tea. Off came the bails and now India are appealing for a run out! It could be out, should be even? That's pretty careless of the batsmen but had the umpires called tea? This Test has had everything, what can the umpires do here?


I saw the replays. I got furious at Ganguly's criticisms of Dhoni during the tea-interval. Of course Bell was out. Of course he was. Why was Ganguly, of all people, criticising Dhoni, who was already under severe blows by the British media?

Then the unthinkable happened. Bell walked out to bat. Apparently Flower and Strauss had walked up to the Indian dressing room, and had asked Dhoni to withdraw his decision (Diptakirti had pointed out that had Ganguly been the captain, he'd have made them wait forever outside the dressing room), and Dhoni had consented.

My initial reaction was that of anger. We had toiled hard for two sessions and could not dislodge Bell. When we had finally managed to get him, how can he let him off this easily? We had not done anything illegal, so why undo it? It shall possibly cost us the test, the series, and bigger than everything, the hard-earned no. 1 spot.

But when the anger subsided, I realised. I suppose my initial anger can be forgiven: after all, it took Dhoni all of the tea-interval to realise the act as well.

The past decade was ruled by a bunch of very competitive cricketers from Australia. They were competitive, they were professional, they were ruthless. They were, in the opinion of many, one of the best sides the world has ever seen, if not the best. They were an awesome pack.

We are a lesser team. We're not big fish - it's just a case of a smaller pond. But, unlike them, we are aware of the responsibilities of being the number one side in the world. We do realise that there are things more important than winning: it's not only about winning matches; it's also about acting as role models to the world.

We have potentially lost a test, the series and the number one slot (maybe we might be able to salvage one or two of them, but it seems quite improbable). What we have managed to do, however, is help cricket emerge as the undisputed champion in the global sport supremacy.

We might have got Bell out. It would have been legal, of course. But it would not have been cricket, you see. And that's what it's all about, isn't it? When you feign an injury and claim a foul, no one says "it's not football". We cricket-lovers have always drooled over the aspects of the queen of sports that makes her reign over other lesser sports.

I had decided to choose cricket as the sport of my passion over two and a half decades back. And have fallen more and more in love, ever since. Moments like these reconfirm my decision. I have chosen the best sport possible, and there's no doubt about that.

England shall win the test. Cricket shall win the world. Yet again.

We're not the best no. 1 side that there was. But we've behaved like one. Thanks MSD, for making me seriously proud of you twice in the span of four months. Thanks for playing cricket.

***

And just in case you think he has been soft, how many of you would have the balls to do what he has done, with the test, series and rank at stake, knowing fully that the media would tear him apart if things go wrong as a result? It takes immense heart to do whatever is right; more so if the other option seems really easy and favourable to do.

But then, the easier option wouldn't have been cricket, right?


10 comments:

  1. MSD's act was poetry in action.
    a poignant patriotic song that heart croons when it swells with dignity of being an Indian.
    From a blind Ganguly fan to a Dhoni convert.
    Cheers.

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  2. It took Ranchi born Dhoni to realize the meaning of cricket as a 'gentleman's game'.
    besides,bad blood between STrauss,flower and the Indian cricket team was also averted.

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  3. Let me confirm the incident (sorry I dont read newspapers and trying to reconstruct from the blog).
    There were some confusion from events on field and per rule book. Dhoni probably reacted on field, then later realized that he can behave much better as captain of no. 1 team (in an sport which as high as 10/15 countries play). So he agreed to bring the batsman again back.
    And that has set cricket as not only your favorite sport, but also much above the other sports? Is it?
    Ok.

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  4. Sibendu: cricket was ALWAYS my favourite sport, and shall forever remain to be so (T20 comes a distance second).

    Yesterday's incident only reconfirmed cricket's status on the hierarchy. I'm not aware of any other sport where an opposition captain would have done something similar with a no. 1 position seriously at stake.

    It's about choosing between what's right and what's easy. And choosing the former is, well, cricket.

    And to crush a common myth that cricket is played only in a handful of countries, the correct count is:

    10 full (test-playing) members - Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Zimbabwe.

    36 associate members (countries where organised cricket is firmly established as a body) - Argentina, Belgium, Bermuda, Botswana, Canada, Cayman Islands, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, Singapore, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, UAE, USA, Vanuatu, Zambia.

    59 affiliate members (countries that, as per ICC, play cricket as per existing rules and regulations) - Afghanistan, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belize, Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burma, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Rep, Estonia, Falkland Islands, Finland, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Indonesia, Isle of Man, Iran, South Korea, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Norway, Oman, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Qatar, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Spain, St Helena, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tonga, Turkey, Turks & Caicos.

    10+36+59=105.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your last two paragraphs remind me of one of my favourite poems - by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken, last paragraph:

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    ---

    What a man, MSD. Cricket CAN be a gentleman's game.

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  6. I feel a bit displaced hearing arguments like - X is great, because he always says the truth :)
    Picked up minds of several people, average population seems to be of opinion that we were in a pretty bad shape in the game. Some were even of opinion it is a very clever move from Dhoni. Even if that was the case, I appreciate that he did the right act, but would limit his praise for doing what "should have been" done. Surely we can romanticize, glorify.
    Very nice knowing that the sport has won hearts of people from as many as 105 countries, who are now associate or affiliates. My personal experience (with folks I happened to work, meet or chat with at very few different countries) unfortunately makes me believe pretty otherwise, surely a skewed picture. Point is - I am sure like any other sports, cricket too would have many bright and many dark sides (dark sides are always due to the men and not the sports themselves); I will just not compare.

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  7. I think the point being stressed by Abhishek here is that he is not aware of any other sport in which the rules of the game allow for such generosity to occur. If Federer challenges a point then the referees cannot ask Nadal whether or not to overturn it. It is only(?) the sport of cricket that is a gentleman's game, where honour can overrule a decision. Where the players have to ASK the umpire if someone is out or not, and where they can retract that appeal upon either their or others' requests.

    And this allowance in the game of cricket makes it a wonderful game to follow. Sure, there are match-fixers in the cricketing world... and there are black sheep anywhere in the world. But the game of cricket has this provision inbuilt into it. And Abhishek (and I!) would sure like to know instances of other sports where the laws of the game allow something similar.

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  8. Wow we are waiting to watch next series. Great cricket is most favourite game.

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  9. How to playing cricket i want to know give me some brilliant tips. thanks to sharing me.

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  10. Cricket likes every people. cricket is most popular game in whole world...

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